Happy birthday your Majesty. A historic time for our nation and the largest media story for the tail end of last week. So it is of no surprise to see that the government has been revealing it’s less popular news while the public eye was distracted by the Queen. The Mirror provided this story – “4 bits of bad news the Tories sneaked out while everyone was watching the Queen’s Birthday” (Mirror 22/4/16) These were – new bonuses for senior civil servants, a tiny pay rise for the Armed Forces, a huge drop in the number of adults in Further Education and a proposal to increase fees for immigration tribunals by 512%.
I find bonuses for senior civil servants hard to swallow. In times of austerity surely there is no justification for such a bonus, especially as I imagine their targets are to cut costs for the government and so are being rewarded for delivering more austerity. Equally the small amount confirmed as a pay rise for army personnel is a reflection of this government’s real view on the armed forces. It’s easy to sing the national anthem on remembrance day and say soundbites. However when it comes to action this government isn’t really serious about the morale of our men and women and the amazing service they provide our country.
The number of adults entering further education is unfortunately not a great surprise. Education is being hit hard and the Further Education budget decimated …no doubt resulting in a bonus for some senior civil servant!
However the story that really caught my eye was the consultation about the 512% increase in charges for immigration appeals. According to the Ministry of Justice website “Courts and tribunals fulfil a vital role in an effective and functioning democracy. They provide access to justice for those who need it, upholding the principle of the rule of law that underpins our society…” so far so good. It then goes on to say “At the same time, we are committed to reducing public spending and continue the work to mend the economy. It is fair that a greater proportion of the costs of our courts and tribunals is borne by those who directly benefit from using them.”(Ministry of Justice) How does ‘greater proportion’ equate to a 512% rise, from £80 to £490? The Ministry may have just said ‘Yes democracy and justice is important but we care more about money.’ I also get a distinct impression that there is another darker inference to be had here. ‘The immigrant failed in their asylum claim and so now are priced out of appealing the decision.’ This almost assumes that they are somehow guilty and undeserving of the justice that the Ministry stated they are proud of. It’s stinks! It’s another example of how the poorest and most vulnerable foot the bill while the one’s at the top get the bonuses. Looks like the Civil Servants have really earned their bonus last week.